tv Forensic Files CNN June 8, 2014 2:30am-3:01am PDT
getting the truth, not getting a confession. >> he wanted to pick on alvin. i like to see him come pick on me. and you can print that one. that's how badly i feel about what he did to that man. he's a bully and a punk. ♪ ♪ the weiner family were active members of their local church, where loving your neighbor and helping others were more than just words but a way of life. ♪ the rock of ages >> but not everyone in the weiner's church wished them well. ♪ with salvation and forensic evidence proved that someone in the congregation had the motive to kill them.
on a thursday night in june of 1988, sally weiner got a telephone call at her corry, pennsylvania home. it was her congressman's office calling to say that her husband harry, who was a vice president of the local bank and a civic leader, had just been chosen as corry's man of the year. >> the caller instructed her not to let on to her husband, as it was supposed to be a surprise, and that she was to meet someone the following day to go over the plans for this -- this celebration. >> the next day, harry weiner got a telephone call at the bank. >> this is sally --
>> we know it's a tape recorded call, because there's no interaction between harry and sally. he's trying to talk to her and she's not responding. she just continues to talk. >> she had to read that if her husband didn't come up with the money, why, they'd cut off her hands. >> she told him in detail that she was being held and these people were dangerous and they were going to kill her if he didn't provide the money. >> sally told him there was a bag under his car with instructions that he was to follow exactly or she would be killed. the ransom note told harry to fill the gym bag with all of the money from his bank's vault and drive to a deserted bridge ten miles outside of town to await further instructions. harry immediately contacted the local police and fbi. they told him to drive to the
back of the police station and pick up a law enforcement officer. >> he got into the car and laid down in the back seat of the car with a .12 gauge shotgun. >> when harry arrived at the railroad bridge, no one was there. so he waited with the sharp shooter in the backseat. and with fbi agents hiding in the woods nearby. >> you just sit there very quietly. you don't move and you listen. and you listen for any kind of footstep, any kind of noise, hoping that he might contact us. but thinking that he's probably within 100 yards of us watching with a rifle. >> after waiting for several hours, the fbi agents told harry to go home and await further word there. the next day at sunrise, the fbi performed a grid search of the drop site. and near the railroad underpass
they found a second ransom note attached to a metal rod with a crepe paper flag. >> the rods we recognized as being rods that were used in filing cabinets, older filing cabinets that slid through the drawers of the filing cabinets from the front to the rear. >> but the sign wasn't easy to see, which is why harry missed it the night before. the second ransom note told harry to proceed to another location several miles from there where the fbi found a third note telling harry to proceed to an abandoned church three miles away. that's where the trail stopped. >> he could observe harry traveling through the countryside there. he could also watch for surveillance units and police who might be following him. >> 18 hours had passed from the
time sally was kidnaped. with no further word from the kidnappers, investigators feared the worst. unlimited. as in, no limits on your hard-earned cash back. as in no more dealing with those rotating categories. the quicksilver card from capital one. unlimited 1.5% cash back on everything you purchase, every day. don't settle for anything less. i'll keep asking. what's in your wallet?
36-year-old sally weiner, the wife of a bank vice president, had been kidnapped and held for ransom. investigators learned that neither sally nor her husband harry had any known enemies. >> you can count on just a couple fingers the number of cases that you see where a bank employee's family member is abducted in exchange for financial gain. it just is not a common crime. >> police found sally's car near a church not far from her husband's bank. >> her car is left in that parking lot. the windows are up and the doors are locked. so there's no sign of a struggle in any respect. >> all day saturday, which was the day after the kidnapping, there was no further communication from the kidnappers. but on sunday, sally's body was discovered by a farmer working his land a few miles outside of
town. she had been killed by a single gunshot wound to the head. >> i just -- i remember being in shock. i felt -- i felt guilty and helpless. >> she was executed. >> the killer used a glaser type bullet that exploded on impact, making it impossible to determine the weapon's caliber. next, the fbi analyzed the ransom notes. all were typed with a computer word processing program, and all were printed with the same font. on one note the word "exactly" was misspelled. investigators got their first real break in the case from a police officer who was walking in the shopping center near harry weiner's bank. he noticed a sign in a bookstore
window listing the sunday newspapers the store carried. in particular he noticed the unusual border. >> it was a five-pointed star with a greater than and less than sign shown consecutively. and corporal ayman ruminated about it and said, i know i've seen it somewhere. >> the policeman immediately recognized it as the same symbol that was on the first ransom note. the owner of the store, david kopenheffer, said he made the sign with his computer and the border was one he mimicked after seeing it on other signs. kopenheffer was a friend of the weiner family, and denied having anything to do with sally's murder. >> they knew each other quite well. both families were members of the presbyterian church. >> they worshipped together, sang hymns together.
they both sat in pews not far from each other at the church. >> because of the similarity between the ransom note and the sign in the store window, investigators confiscated both his home and his office computers. >> the preliminary search that was conducted by the state police and one of our other agents revealed exactly to me what it revealed to them. initially nothing. >> next, investigators wanted to know the approximate time of sally's death so they could question kopenheffer about his whereabouts. a forensic entomologist analyzed the insect activity on sally's body. by analyzing the outside temperature on the weekend of sally's murder, dr. kim estimated that the insect activity commenced on the body
late on friday afternoon, the same day she was kidnapped. >> then investigators and the prosecution look at that to say, ah-ha. that must have been the time when the body was placed there. so that's their judgment there. >> interestingly, kopenheffer could not account for all of his time that day. but they still needed more forensic evidence to know for certain whether he was the killer.
a background check revealed some startling information about david kopenheffer. he had been turned down for a $25,000 business loan by harry weiner less than a year earlier. kopenheffer was now the prime suspect in the kidnapping and murder of harry weiner's wife sally. so the fbi put david kopenheffer under surveillance and watched as he took some trash out to the dumpster behind his store. when the fbi seized it, they found some suspicious items.
they found a used roll of crepe paper, the same make and color as the paper found with the ransom notes. >> the fbi was able to match up the tear from that roll of crepe paper which was in the trash at the bookstore to one of the actual flags. >> they also found bits and pieces of paper. the fbi painstakingly pieced them together. >> and that note actually was a duplicate of one of the notes that was left at one of the sites that mr. weiner was directed to go to after the kidnapping of his wife. >> armed with a search warrant, the fbi found a stack of metal file cabinet rods in kopenheffer's shed, similar to the ones found with the ransom notes. the fbi's forensic metallurgist
wi william pz topin analyzed the rods with a scanning electronic microscope. and discovered some unique marks on the side of the rods created as they were manufactured. >> individual characteristics that are imparted from the tool or dye on the work piece are not the same in hour one of that die's life as they would be in hour 8, 12, or hour 16. >> these marks indicated to mr. tobin that the rods found in kopenheffer's home and those found with the ransom notes were all made on the same day at virtually the same time. >> something on the order of minutes. this was one of the best associations i've ever had with regard to the fabrication characteristics. >> police also found glaser brand ammunition in kopenheffer's home. the same type used in sally weiner's murder. >> i think that would be extremely unusual to have glaser
round ammunition in a person's home. >> and local authorities asked the fbi to conduct their own analysis of kopenheffer's computers after the initial search of the hard drives turned up nothing. a document is not all in one place on a disc drive. pieces of it are stored in different sectors of a drive. when a document is deleted, it's not erased from the hard drive. instead, the space occupied by that document is labelled available to reuse if necessary. >> by going through that disc mathematically, finding the proper clusters based upon the known interleaving of the drive, you can piece together an entire document if the file space that
that document occupied had not been overwritten. >> when this crime was committed in 1988, there were no computer programs that could reassemble documents that had been deleted. so al johnson and his team had to do something that had never been done before. they had to do the analysis manually. >> it's a painstaking process that took approximately 33 days to look at two, 20-megabyte hard drives. >> a computer is about as secure as a wet paper bag. it never throws data away. >> they found bits and pieces of a document kopenheffer had deleted called "the plan." it listed all of the steps necessary to carry out sally weiner's kidnapping and murder. >> we were able to recover 80% of the murder plan back off of
the hard drive. 20% of that had been overwritten or altered and to a point where we couldn't recover the data. >> this evidence was the most damning. this evidence connected the computer to the man to the notes to the crime. >> this document revealed that sally weiner wasn't kopenheffer's only target. >> it looks as if based on that plan he planned on killing harry weiner after retrieving the ransom. making new york state number two in the nation in new private sector job creation... with 10 regional development strategies to fit your business needs. and now it's even better because they've introduced startup new york... with the state creating dozens of tax-free zones where businesses pay no taxes for ten years. become the next business to discover the new new york. [ male announcer ] see if your business qualifies.
the prosecutors believe it was david kopenheffer who had disguised his voice and called sally on thursday night with the bogus story that her husband harry was chosen as man of the year. he set up a time the next day for the two of them to meet to plan the awards ceremony. then kopenheffer placed the ransom notes in the various locations outside of town and put one of them in the gym bag underneath harry's car. when sally arrived at what she believed to be the planning meeting, she would have recognized kopenheffer from church.
>> hi, sally, how are you? >> he somehow talked her into his van where he overpowered and subdued her. he then forced her to record the message to her husband telling him she had been kidnapped. the forensic evidence shows that kopenheffer killed sally within a few hours after he abducted her. then dumped her body on the farm outside of town. he returned to his store, placed the call to harry at the bank and played sally's tape recording. kopenheffer was sure harry would follow the instructions to the letter. the computer evidence shows that he planned to kill harry at the abandoned church when he dropped off the ransom money.
>> harry was the one he was mad at for having turned him down on the loan application. he wanted revenge on harry as much as he wanted the money. >> despite warning harry not to call police, kopenheffer learned that harry did just that because of a journalist who had heard about the kidnapping from the police scanner. >> and i went immediately to the plaza and parked my car. there was not a lot of activity. >> so he walked into david kopenheffer's store and asked what was going on. >> he looked at me and said, no, he said, there hasn't been a single thing going on. it's been a very quiet night. there isn't anything going on. at the time i was talking with him, i didn't know that he had killed her. so i did not make a connection
that here was a cold-blooded murderer sitting in front of me. >> after learning that the police were involved, kopenheffer most likely stayed in his store instead of going to the ransom drop site. and harry didn't see the next ransom note kopenheffer left for him at the railroad bridge. based on the forensic evidence, david kopenheffer was arrested and charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder. >> one of the things that we did is get a writing sample from kopenheffer and had him spell "exactly." he misspelled it in the writing sample the same way it was misspelled in his computer. again that's to correlate the fact that he's the one who inputted that stuff into the computer versus some external source.
>> david kopenheffer was tried and eventually convicted of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison. >> david kopenheffer is the master manipulator. it's an intellectual game, an intellectual challenge to see how far he can push the system and what he can get away with. >> i think if he were out he'd kill again. he'd put a contract on me and harry weiner while the trial was going on because we were key witnesses against him. i don't think that he would stop at anything. >> despite the overwhelming amount of forensic evidence against him, kopenheffer continues to maintain his innocence. >> that's the arrogance of the man, that despite overwhelming evidence as to his guilt and many defendants do this, they still, still refuse to accept responsibility for the crimes that they've committed.
and that's the sin, one of the sins of all of this. >> this case, in my own opinion, is a landmark case. it is the beginning of the genesis of what computer forensics is now. from this computer forensics was born. those 20 horses that start in kentucky are the only 20 available -- eligible to run in all three races. this is the coward's way out. >> we started seeing families dropped off, including, you know, children. >> our country paid a serious price, a heavy price to get bowe bergdahl back. >> i will dwell in the house of the lord forever. come on, somebody, that is worth a pentecostal shout down.